Personality of Coronavirus

I am surprised at how compliant everyone has been with wearing a mask. It is mandatory within stores and public buildings, but it is just as common to see people wearing masks outside exercising. In Texas, even with the heat in the 100’s, people are continuing to wear masks outdoors, sweating from fear of the Coronavirus.

I think it would be interesting to do a psychological study of people based on how much they are masking themselves. As concern for the Coronavirus has continued, I’ve noticed people covering up their faces more and more. In retail environments where there have been the most people, I have seen people so covered up you cannot even see their face! How can the police even identify a thief anymore? Women are seen wearing large sunglasses and masks so that only their foreheads are left uncovered. Men wear bandanas that cover up the entire bottom half of their face below their eyes. Whereas in most cases it is difficult to implement any kind of policy, somehow wearing a mask is not even questioned. There are very few people who argue with it. How many of these are wearing a mask for prevention reasons and how many are wearing it because of psychological needs for safety, security, love, and belonging?

I have seen people who have their entire face covered. Is this a sign of care and security that the person is trying to create for themselves? Does the amount of coverage of the face signify fulfilling a need of self-love and way of conquering pain in their life, like trying to swaddle themselves in a baby blanket? Or maybe it is coverage from the fear of contracting the virus built up from all the hype and coverage of media, rather than the virus itself.

Perhaps for some, it is a way to physically look better or a means to lose weight. Sweating under a mask burns off calories on an entirely different area of the body than is typical. Similarly, with weight loss, how is it that a person can breathe who is exercising with their mouth and nose covered? I had a gym membership and it was manageable to walk on a treadmill at a slow speed with a mask on. However, any faster cardio activity was nearly impossible as the mask restrained breathing and caused my face to become really hot. Do people who workout intensely masked think it will strengthen their lungs by restraining their air? For those who are self-conscious about the bottom half of their face, it provides a chance to keep it hidden, but for most of us, we need a full supply of air. Likewise, it is a mystery to me how cyclists are able to ride their bikes completely masked. Yet many of them are cycling miles around the lake at the same speed as normal. How many of the walkers and runners with dogs on a leash do not care that the Coronavirus can be contracted to their pet? Where are the pet masks? Wouldn’t it make more sense if both pet and owner wore a mask or didn’t?

Living in a self-expressive era, people are eager to express themselves and show their personality and style. For those who care to express themselves by mask, wearing a unique mask is a way to do this. The number of styles I have seen have ranged from glitter and bling, to exaggerated mouths on the mask, patriotic versions, cartoons, and plenty of different colors and patterns. Those who love to sew, were quick to see the Coronavirus as an opportunity to show their skills. Handmade masks were made and distributed to friends and family members. Many still wear the basic disposable, blue and white mask. Bandanas also have been a quick makeshift for a mask, easily made by folding a bandana into thirds and popping hair bands on each end.

Very few people are actually practicing social distancing with 6 feet of space, but wearing a mask is followed by nearly the entire population and has become a trend. Has self-expression and the trend for fashion tied in with keywords like “social distancing” created a fad to drive compliancy?

Health and self-expression are always going to be top-sellers when it comes to the general public. Having an ailment or a special condition, makes you a commodity. We see this with parents and their children. “My child has ADHD”, or whatever other symptom, suddenly makes the child “special” and the parents have a topic to talk about. Topics revolve around the problem with their child, rather than emphasizing what the child excels in. This is a way parents can converse with one another encountering less feeling of inadequacy. Empathy can be found with a health issue, whereas bragging on talent might create adversity with another parent. The same type of approach applies to adult-to-adult conversation. Adults would rather discuss their woes rather than talk about what is uplifting. How many older people talk about their pains, medications and doctors visits when it would be more pleasant to hear about their life experiences. It creates a concern for self, which results in compassion from the other person. With the Coronavirus everyone gets a special band-aid pasted on their face.

It is understandable that vulnerable populations such as the elderly might have a greater fear of catching the Coronavirus. One would think that children would be of a higher concern as well. In retail store environments, I have heard mothers question why their children must wear a mask or if an exception can be made. Events and kids meals might make exceptions for kids, but with smaller lungs and little bodies, it would seem obvious they would fall into the high concern bracket. Psychologically is it that the parent feels neglected of care and must nurture themselves by wearing a mask while giving the child the benefit of freedom? The parent positions him or herself as the one who needs care above the child, when it should be both.

With the rich and famous, masking opens up more opportunities to be in public and not be identified. For those aspiring to be rich and famous, they too can dress differently and go around town in mask for a different experience. It is a chance for the affluent to be fashionable and show their sense of fashion by affording specialized masks to coordinate with their outfits. An article was posted about the Queen of England who wears a mask that matches her daily wardrobe of brightly colored suits. I also saw a young woman in downtown Dallas who had a mask made of the exact material of her outfit.  

While some cultures such as Islam require head coverings, covering the face is new for most Western cultures. Will this develop a greater appreciation for our mouths? An uncovered mouth is needed for sound and volume. Many hard of hearing must be affected by not being able to hear people who have mouth coverings on. It may create a new vision for how we see people, noticing the person rather than the external qualities. The mouth is also used for reading facial expressions. A person can take a vacation from smiling and no one will even know. I’ve even seen people stick their tongue out at me from behind their mask. And as for revenue from foundation makeup and lipstick, I would imagine sales are down. Personally, I prefer to be mask-free as much as possible, but follow policies where wearing a mask is required.

Wearing a mask is the perfect prelude to a reformation of etiquette in our culture. After being in timeout with the Coronavirus, with shelter in place, we were able to have a greater appreciation for our freedom and ability to interact with one another. Covering the mouth and nose, can visually signify halting gossip and nosiness, which is also indicative of rudeness. When restrictions were lifted for public shopping, it was a renewed experience of respectfulness of distance and the exclusiveness of having space while shopping. People were obedient to this and cautious of infecting others by following social distancing procedures. Now that most places have opened up, there seems to be not much difference as everyday life returns to normal. When we take our masks off, we will see other people’s faces again. What it would be like to remove the band-aids over our mouths and noses yielding a healed and healthy society of people. Furthermore, what if being mask-free meant a world culture safe from the Coronavirus, and one with a greater respectfulness for each other in our interactions and speech.  

Note: It is noted that the Coronavirus is real and has caused many deaths worldwide. This article is written from another perspective hoping to present other points such as how well marketed the Coronavirus has been with precautions followed seamlessly by the majority of the population because of the scare. A lack of respectfulness in today’s culture is equally contagious and deadly, which is a natural segue to this current worldwide concern.


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Sex Trafficking Lite

With an estimated 4.8 million victims of sex trafficking worldwide, the United States surpasses other countries with the number of consumers increasing each year. As an industry which is illegal and immoral, many victims are forced into slave labor for sexual services. For sex traffickers, it generates an easy and profitable income. Although sex trafficking is a very serious concern, using women sexually for gain is part of U.S. society already, even legally. If within U.S. culture sex is seen as an acceptable way to appease any discrepancy, particularly in the business world—then what is in question is, how many of these women willingly agree to provide services in situations where there is a mild degree of force or expectation?

It may seem to be advantageous to give into demanded sexual situations if there is a benefit associated with it. With a tight economy, there may seem to be no other option. At the demand of a 3rd party, a woman might be expected to perform in some sexual way for another person, who is probably known, in exchange for non-monetary payment. As long as all involved get some benefit, it is a win-win, and for the performer, an extra means for perks. In the business world, a threat for employment may be enough for an individual to stretch boundaries to concede to sexual expectations to retain a job or as a double benefit for themselves and another individual. It might be being expected to be sexually available to a manager to protect their reputation, or as a way to be hired. There is a fine line between prostitution for employment and these encounters which mirror the sex trafficking model on a lesser level. How willing an individual is plays a factor into being enlisted for sexual services. What may be initially thought of as a one-time-sexual-incident, might end up being a subscription to the individual with the expectation to repeat sexual acts. Set intervals then become the standard to renew the agreement over and over. While these may be forced by another, each individual has a responsibility to set their own boundaries, and even in the most desperate situations, still has the right to say “no” and find other avenues.

A common complaint among women is there is an expectation to fulfill sexual needs of men within professional and social settings. Minorities, who are not Caucasian, are often expected to be the ones who will be available. The stereotype is not far from being accurate that certain ethnicities of women do not think twice about being expected to fulfill high demands of sexual needs—for them it is seen as innate to their culture. While it may not have been as prevalent of an expectation with Caucasians, it is becoming more incorporated as an expectation as cultures mix socially and within the workplace. For minorities who are in financial situations, using sex even if for a non-monetary benefit can be seen as profitable. If a person is expected to perform anyway, then why not do it for a perk or benefit? While the individual may not be open to full porn services which they market themselves for, they may be open to giving into the requests of a 3rd party to perform services if it is seen as more classy and has benefits as a result. For the philanthropically inclined, being coerced into sex may just need a little rebranding. By shifting their perspective to see a requested sexual favor as for the benefit of another, it is seen as a more worthy approach to what is demanded. Therefore, although reluctancy might exist, the service is considered acceptable. In some cases, individuals can be coerced not by threat, but by concept. Rather than selling sex as a mandatory activity, the non-official sex trafficker paints the sexual request done for another as a volunteer activity and one which would require a generous spirit, of which the person is capable of. This good karma will result in connections with desired sex partners and other non-tangible benefits.

Similar to those who are used in the business world or other settings, are those of wealth. Females of affluent families may be expected to be available for sexual services because of their status or as a social expectation of politeness. This can occur in work or social settings. Although they may not be coerced by a trafficker, it may be strongly indicated by a 3rd party, such as a family member or friend, as necessary. In this case, the required interaction is seen as an allegiance to continue a bond between families socially as a “tipping of a hat” of sorts. Providing sexual acts may be also self-demanded because of their upbringing. These interactions while they may or may not be enjoyed, have a relatively low threat level. It would be inaccurate that this obligation would the considered as sex slavery. Although it may be demanded the expectation is still within the acceptable boundaries these women set for themselves and participate in willingly without saying “no”.

Within the family, children are also subject to sexual demands with older members of the family serving as low-level traffickers. Children from the time they start becoming sexually active, might be expected to perform sexual services for the benefit of another. As minors, some are too young to live outside of the home. As a sex nuance, the child might be enticed with a benefit or gift in exchange for a high expectation to strip, be fondled or have sex at the request of a family member to win them over for specific reasons. Children may not know how to report the situation if they even realize this is wrong. Others might be abused if they do not do what is expected. Minors, even as teenagers may not see any other option, as they are trapped living in the home.

Beyond these work and society expectations, traffickers exist who manage loose business operations offering sexual services on-call as a provider of “a resource-in-place”. These calls are set up through a 3rd party who manages women in different areas to be on-call to show up in case there is a need to offset any perceived inconveniences or flaw of a specific person present there. Services are called upon, to simply show up and be available, whether needed or not. These connoisseur services are managed by a 3rd party who pays the “on-call sex temp” a small amount of cash, to be available in case sex is needed, for the perceived safety or benefit of another. A woman wanting to earn extra money, might be called upon to go to a local establishment to be available to provide for sexual services if needed to offset the inconvenience of another present. In many cases, there may not even be a threat or expectation from anyone there. The “one being saved” may have nothing to do with the connoisseur agreement, and in fact be humiliated as the “sex savior” shows up to advertise the unnecessary need. The 3rd party pays the woman, who has a chance of being needed, and she is expected, if requested, to offer exposure, stripping, or sex, for any offense. In a sense, the coercion is placed on the business owner who is forced to welcome a person offering suggestive services at the expense of his business. Without questioning for more information, some managers may see it as a favor bestowed to them. The 3rd party uses it as an intent to build a relationship with the business and to provide a low-risk, quick cash opportunity for the resource.

The same occurs in the business world to offset any potential error made by an employee. A 3rd party hires a woman who is paid to be the backup refund policy with sexual services she offers. Third parties will advertise such services even prior to employment of a candidate. The 3rd party provides the opportunity for these sexual providers to be available and recruits them to advertise their services as part of the package of what a new-hire brings to a company. Several issues exist with this. The first is that the candidate has no part of the negotiation. Secondly, it is presenting the idea that an offset is needed, and even prior to starting a new job. Thirdly, it is selling the idea that this type of prostitution becomes the expectation for anyone’s employment and works as an advantage to sell the candidate. Sexual services become the expectation for any employer that does not receive 100% accuracy or 100% satisfaction. There is no room for human error, gives no credibility to the hiring team, and encourages a culture of sex in the workplace. It is an unprofessional employment accessory which is being marketed as the new standard.

The highest-level of coercion by traffickers to willful participants, is discrimination. This trafficking is unique in that it spreads discrimination of an individual for employment and within society if not available for sexual services. Instead of the sex trafficker managing the sexual service, they manage the prevention of an individual being hired for employment or shunned within society until the sexual activity they desire occurs. Meanwhile, they revere the sexually available as more worthy of existence in any setting. This oppression, besides shutting doors, can take many forms of verbal disgrace, shun, and public humiliation. Propaganda can be passed to employers to shun a new-hire throughout entire teams and to customers, disregarding all HR policies and ending new jobs within a couple of days or even just a few hours. Traffickers select key individuals who will spread sexual hate comments, within the workplace, to earn a few extra dollars, at the expense of an employee present to be humiliated. Greater propaganda influences the views throughout cities in all places to publicly humiliate and mock. The thought process is by persisting with this, forcing their demands, the person with other standards will eventually concede. It can continue for years, if not decades, as sex trafficking members involved become so determined on forcing a situation with the intent of seeing conformity to their demands.

In the end, boundaries are important to have for any female. Parents need to teach children boundaries at an early age and what is appropriate sexually and what is not. The word “no” is important for all ages. Each female must determine what is acceptable and what isn’t, and to what extent she can sacrifice her life to it. Ultimately, sexual permission is in the hands of the individual, and anything else should be able to be walked away from, or if taken against her will then the individual(s) involved should be incriminated.

Written for Our Bread Foundation, Inc., June 2020


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Trafficked 
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Sex Trafficking and the Perils of Privacy Invasion

Technology has helped position the sex trafficking industry as a lucrative market since the first sex website launched online in 1994. Since then, the online sex trafficking industry has grown, offering more options for buying and selling people into sex slavery and a smorgasbord of illicit, sexual services to clients all over the globe. The process is simple and streamlined with its transactions, leaving those involved virtually untraceable. Sex traffickers can easily generate revenue by posting services and enticing clients with a variety of digital content to meet specific requests—all at the expense and damage of those involuntarily expected to perform.

The Online Market for Traffickers
Conducting business online is a quick way to manage trafficking with less of a chance of being caught. It’s the ideal marketing playground for sex; sellers can reach specific target audiences with online advertising, and buyers can search for sexual services as a match for their needs. For sellers, posting online sex trafficking ads is an inexpensive way to find women and children to be bought and sold for sex services. For buyers, it is impossible to distinguish between online ads offering services they seek and those which involve unwilling trafficked women and children as participants. Exploding with an exploitation of minors, 100,000 websites exist that are dedicated to child pornography. In addition to advertising minors for sex, Backpage.com, which has since been shut down, was netting $150 million in revenue per year from adult service ads and was the source of 73% of child trafficking cases (Equality Now, 2020). Craigslist also ranks high as a way for online sex traffickers to remain anonymous while soliciting business. Fortunately, as sites use more advanced methods of artificial intelligence and laws are enforced, online advertisements have a greater chance of being detected and removed.

Footage and Footprints of Live-Streamed Sessions
Responding to ads posted online, buyers find sellers online who offer live-streamed sessions. Chat sessions using webcams are used to build a virtual relationship between the performer and client. An online relationship is established, enticing continual business with promises of eventually meeting the person. Victims who are exploited are forced to be on camera to put on a “show,” which brings in $20–$150 on average to the seller. Even children are offered a small amount of money to be part of nightly “shows” (International Observatory Human Rights, 2019). Buyers search online for children within a certain age range or who have a certain appearance. The seller provides live footage for them to view based on what they are looking for. Sex trafficking is a global issue, but in the United States alone, 21% of those who are victim to sex exploitation are children, with 63% of videos containing children under the age of 8 years old (Nuix, 2019). The ease of digital platforms has opened up ways for online advertising, marketing and communication to help bring in more sales and deliver content to buyers.

The Dangers of Other Online Sexual Content
Feeding addictions, curiosity and loneliness, cybersex trafficking provides sexual content and views to buyers for their visual pleasure, satiating their sexual perversions. Women and children who are used as slaves for the business are exploited, forced to engage in cybersex activities out of fear of abuse or other threats by sex traffickers. Online content and interactions include chat sessions, photos, recorded videos, live-streamed webcam videos and sex camming, where the buyer watches in real time and can request performances (Fight the New Drug, 2019). Selling sexual content can be highly profitable for sellers. It is not unusual for a live sex video to bring in $400 in 45 minutes. The victims, while of high value to the sellers, are treated as worthless. Young women who have been coerced into this sex business seldom receive money for sexual services but are used for traffickers to make money received by clients. Many are beaten if they do not cooperate and some are forced to have sex 20–48 times per day (Trafficked No More). Sex trafficking is a global concern as the Internet is used to transfer sexual content worldwide.

A Focus on Sex Camming and Trafficking Using Remote Drones
Another method for traffickers is using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to record live video of involuntary victims (Brookings, 2014). Thanks to aerial surveillance and remote applications, the target is able to be accessed live from anywhere. Even indoors within their own home, victims’ privacy is compromised while showering, undressing, using the toilet, having sex or just existing and the feed is streamed in full color with the ability for buyers to hear and speak to the victim. There is a limitless range to the accessibility of victims because they can be reached in any building and even outdoors in tents or at parks—anywhere electricity can be conducted, even through poles or trees outdoors. Friends or family members select the victim as the target without the victim’s permission. Additional recorded views are available online for purchase. Likewise, technology offers buyers the ability to X-ray the victim remotely to see through clothing and view inside the body to watch organs function and even interact with laser radiation to buzz them or pinpoint intimate body parts with a laser as they sleep. This form of sexual abuse and exploitation is nearly impossible to trace, and anyone can be made victim to this pervasive surveillance—anywhere and at any time—all for the benefit of those who have a device to invade others’ privacy for income and views. Although legislation is passed regulating the use of drones by the government, the general public being able to use drones as a means for trafficking is a concern that is overlooked.

Aperture With Legislation and Restrictions
In 2017, the government began to place a greater emphasis on online sex trafficking by passing the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). This marked significant progress in establishing legislation for social networks, causing them to have a greater responsibility to censor content posted and sex trafficking advertisements. Victims can find hope for justice as social network providers face tighter restrictions and heightened accountability.

 

References

Brookings. McNeal, G. (2014, November). Drones and aerial surveillance: Considerations for legislatures. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/drones-and-aerial-surveillance-considerations-for-legislatures/amp

Equality Now. (2020). Human Trafficking & Online Prostitution Advertising. Retrieved from https://www.equalitynow.org/interrupting_the_vicious_cycle_of_online_sex_trafficking

Equality Now. (2020). Interrupting the Vicious Cycle of Online Sex Trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.equalitynow.org/interrupting_the_vicious_cycle_of_online_sex_trafficking

Fight the New Drug. (2019, April 11). Uncovering the Dark World of Trafficking in the Webcamming Industry. Retrieved from https://fightthenewdrug.org/uncovering-secret-world-trafficking-camming-industry

International Observatory Human Rights. Allen, C. (2019, March 7). The Role of the Internet on Sex Trafficking. Retrieved from https://observatoryihr.org/blog/the-role-of-the-internet-on-sex-trafficking

Nuix. (2019, July 16). Pogue, C. Continuing the Fight Against Cybersex Trafficking. Retrieved from https://www.nuix.com/blog/continuing-fight-against-cybersex-trafficking

Trafficked No More. Sex Trafficking States. Retrieved from http://traffickednomore.org//warning-signs/sex-trafficking-stats

Written for One Bread Foundation, Inc., June 2020


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The Single Scoop: Encouragement for Singles

When I was writing articles on various topics for encouragement this month, I thought of all the singles I know who are in need of encouragement. There is a mindset, or a panic, that there “has to be someone out there” who you just haven’t met and the time clock is ticking. It starts somewhere in your 20s and definitely on the megaphone from all by your 30s because “aren’t you going to have a family?”. By 40, it really seems to be “too late” unless you’ve decided to compromise to live a life with another within all of the various, new-found creative forms of marriage. For many, they meet someone special and live the happy life. Those are most of your friends. The ones you bought a beautiful present for, perfect for the couple, bought straight off the registry list for their wedding and enjoyed a delicious piece of buttercream frosted cake, while just knowing—just knowing, with one sip of the champagne glass that your turn is NEXT. Gosh by golly, you even caught the bouquet twice, and doesn’t that mean something?!?

The single life, while it has its benefits of independency—and some freedoms to come and go as you please, or buy things with maybe a little more leeway, decorate yourself and your housing with a little more personality based on your preferences, for example—can be fun as well as have plenty of lonely moments of going for the Ben & Jerry’s, single-size carton, as you wallow yourself in self-pity, one gigantic spoonful at a time, just trying to wade through misery moments of ‘one’ of having to do absolutely everything yourself including carrying all the burdens on one set of shoulders. Keep in mind, some of us have it worse, stalked by thousands of remote stalkers not just invading your personal life, but the shower, car, work, balance in your bank account, and telling everyone of which flavor of Ben and Jerry’s you finally decided on and sharing everything and anything more intimate as well just to be the scoop, all at your humiliation. On the upside, single-hood, is a time for self-exploration and a time for freedom and fun. With the freedom single-hood offers, singles tend to have more energy. With this energy and less commitments, singles can spread kindness to others probably even more so than married couples or families.

Staying encouraged as a single can be tough at times. This is where a dose of kindness can be helpful with a few kind words. The single begins to frantically analyze what the problem is. Is it my appearance?…Many books and magazines have suggestions for how to groom yourself for the ‘right one’. There are all sorts of products on the shelf and accessories which are sure to market yourself. There is self-confidence which comes with self-care and wanting to look presentable. However, more effective is spending time developing you! Is it my social skills?…Singles can find encouragement by finding other singles to be around. They can find encouragement through volunteer work and thus increasing feelings of self-worth. They can also find encouragement with self-improvement activities and learning new skills and hobbies. Is it my age?…Much of staying encouraged when you feel ‘you are being left behind’ is by looking at what you have instead of what you don’t have.

A lot of unhappiness comes from jealously. There is no use dwelling on a time clock that just can’t seem to match ‘the schedule’. Finding ways to refocus instead of drowning in misery can help escape from these melancholy moments. It may not be your time yet. Times are different now and living the independent life is more of the standard than relationships which are ‘out’ of style unless it is a quick encounter. After all, we have our electronic devices as our daily companions and ‘more options is best’ is the way which appeases many. Maybe it is time to see how to reinvent the meaning of in-person, ‘human relationships’ and from there be encouraged as singles to find ‘someone’ as the one.


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Encourage a Single

Do you know someone who is single? Along with being free of attachments, comes the burden of having to take care of all the to-do items by yourself, make decisions, and be self-reliable. While most singles are able to juggle their loads just fine, there are situations which arise where having an extra person to call upon in the case of an emergency is a relief. Even in the world of technology where we have almost any service available online, there are times when being able to rely on a friend is easier and more personable in times of trial. If you know a single person, consider offering to be a person available who they can call on in times like this.

Singles have the opportunity to have the time of their life. They can pickup and go places, make decisions on the spur of the moment and change plans at the drop of a hat. There is not a curfew time to be home by, no reason to not splurge now and then, and there are plenty of people to meet at many single social functions to attend. However, despite this, singles can become very lonely in a world filled with families and couples. Eating at a restaurant may not be as fun if there is no one available to eat with. Going to an event requires trying to find others who have the same interest who want to attend. Holidays with the family might be a challenge having to explain why there isn’t another half there. When the day is over, the home is one of one. Although much of this is enjoyed, not having a family to be part of can add to loneliness. Singles can get caught up in these lonely moments which can spiral the desire for a family or companionship into a dark tunnel of despair. One way families can encourage singles is by inviting them to join in at family events occasionally. A single can contribute to a family with their enthusiasm, energy, and experiences. Likewise, a family can rejuvenate a single with a feeling of love and belonging, a good meal, and a the warmth of a family atmosphere.

How can you encourage a single? Here are a few ideas:

  • Offer a hand with a move.
  • Spend time.
  • Invite a single person to join you for a meal.
  • Lend an ear to listen.
  • Offer to babysit the children of single parents.
  • Offer to let a single friend take your child out on an outing for the day.
  • Give a single friend your phone number and e-mail address for emergencies.
  • Offer a single person a ride to get their car fixed or to the airport.
  • Offer a hand to help on home projects which need repair or home-improvement.
  • Tell them they are important as a “1” in a world of 2s.
  • Give hope! Be kind!

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Imagine What a Little Encouragement Can Do

“How are you?”. As a variation of “Hello”, this greeting is heard many times a day with very little thought or meaning behind it for most people.  The reply “Fine” might not always be the complete truth but enough to move on to other conversation topics. Imagine if this greeting could be expressed with true meaning and empathy to all we encounter.

Everyone has struggles, some greater than others. Anything from being late to work because of car problems, having a sick family member, personal illness, job loss, feelings of inadequacy, seemingly unsurmountable challenges, a shattering divorce, or other tragedies— whatever the personal tragedy of the moment is, we have a responsibility to encourage one another and bring hope. Burdens can be lifted with words of hope and cheer and alleviate spirits weighed down by disappointment, discouragement, embarrassment, and hopelessness.

Being present with open ears and undivided attention is an invaluable gift you can give to someone who is struggling. By listening a person quietly steps into the realm of encouragement bringing a dose of compassion. Talking through struggles can help lighten burdens and even can be a way to work through solving problems. Even a person without any experience in counseling can provide empathy by just listening.

The basis of encouragement is reassurance and reinforcement. It is the belief that someone can be more than what is imagined possible. It is the belief that even with impossible situations alternative viable solutions can be found. It is cheering on the deflated spirit, adding light to the fading wick of will, to regenerate energy for new hope. It is providing a little relief by being there to help someone push forward out of the rut. Reaching out to others with words of encouragement spreads kindness. It looks outside of self in concern of another to re-channel the focus toward positive energy and hope.

Words of encouragement state words of beliefs such as “I know” telling someone that “it will” be because you know it can be. It is addressing failure or a challenge as not being the stopping point but a valley from which one can provide hope for another heading up again toward the next high point or goal.

Can you find someone who needs to be lifted up today and cheer them on?

@cultureofkind


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by DiverseBee

Books
The Joy of Encouragement: Unlock the Power of Building Others Up
by David Jeremiah

Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living

by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst, Samantha Evilsizer

Encouragement Changes Everything: Bless and Be Blessed
by
John C. Maxwell

Music
The Power of Encouragement
by Seeds Family Worship

The Precious Moments Song Collection:
Songs filled with love and encouragement
Maranatha Music

The World’s Favourite Praise & Worship Songs
Various artists

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As Easy As Pie

Acts of Hospitable Kindness

As we march into July, it is a perfect time to practice random acts of kindness while being neighborly and hospitable. Although it may not be as common now, it wasn’t long ago that neighbors brought food to one another out of thoughtfulness. The gift was sharing the latest recipe that was a success, or a sample of the latest batch of cookies, hot out of the oven, still warm. It was a good excuse to go next door, or across the street and say, “Howdy”. Texas spirit in full-swing, always with a warm welcome, a positive greeting, and some of the funniest phrases on the planet, to spread some love.

With 4th of July approaching, traditionally there are parades, picnics, and of course, early lawn seating for the spectacular fireworks. The festive celebration of independence is an ideal time to congregate with friends and meet new people. It’s an energized time of excitement and an outburst of friendliness as friends get together to celebrate. This year is much different with cancellations to all the major celebrations. With COVID-19 restrictions still in affect, the 4th of July is one of independence rather than togetherness.As you plan for your own unique 4th of July event, think of others who may be by themselves this holiday. Try extending an invitation ahead of time for someone who may be alone to join you. Even if you are planning to have a simple 4th of July, watching the fireworks on TV or online, you might consider having a few people over and hosting a fireworks viewing get-together in your backyard. If you are already planning to attend an event, see how you can offer to help by bringing a dish or lending an extra hand with setting up. Remember to practice social distancing, while still be social!I challenge you to the “Oh, Say Can You See, Challenge”, of seeking out ways to be randomly kind this 4th of July, by extending hospitality and kindness to those you don’t know. Dish out an extra bit of kindness to those around you! Being welcoming and friendly is part of our country’s culture and heritage. Take the liberty this 4th of July of being extra kind.

[written for @cultureofkind]


Search books and other merchandise online!  Extend friendliness and hospitality!


 

It’s Sensitive Man

Q & A of Making Sense of the Sensitive

 

Q: I am concerned about a stranger, and want to help, but I am not sure of the best way to approach the person to find out how I can help. What do you suggest?

A: There is a difference between prying and sincerely wanting to get involved to express concern and help someone. First, start with a basic question. Listen and watch for indications of how the person is reacting as you converse. If the person is open to the way the conversation is progressing, continue with further investigation asking more specific questions. If the person becomes hostile or abrupt, then back out of the discussion and change the topic. You can try to come back to test the waters again later if the person seems more receptive. It is always a good idea to be sincere and warm in your approach. People can usually tell if you are being nosy or if you truly care. Once you are able to determine what the situation is, express compassion and ask politely how you can help. It is kind and thoughtful to follow up later if you are able to.

Q: What is the proper way to confront gossip?

A: While confrontation is typically not recommended, when it comes to gossip it is best to confront the gossiper and address it. By ignoring and not addressing it, the gossip being said results in being represented as being truth.

Q: How do you politely ask someone to stop swearing or using inappropriate references?

A: Ask the person to please stop using language around you. Tell them that the references being made are highly offensive and inappropriate.

Q: What is the best way to address emotional relationship issues?

A: Emotional relationship questions and conversations can be delicate situations. Follow the rule of 3 C’s. Current, Concise, and Continuity. Focus on what is current, not the past. Be concise. State a continuity plan of what you would like to see moving forward. Plan for a quiet place to have a private conversation and be honest, welcoming open communication. Always ask questions with kindness and respect.

Q: How do you effectively ask someone to stop gossiping or spreading rumors?

A: If a person is igniting gossip, there is usually something missing within that individual, such as a lack of self-esteem or a desire for popularity. Try to compliment the person and build them up, countering their negativity. Ask the person to stop, explaining how the gossip is damaging and not appropriate.

Q: How can a person communicate with the highest level of dignity to a person?

A: The best way to communicate to someone with the highest level of dignity and worth is speaking directly to the person with sincerity, respect, and value.

Q: Is there a checklist of questions I can routinely ask myself to make sure I am being kind to myself?

A: No matter what your state in life is, there is a responsibility to take time to care for yourself. Being kind to yourself means fulfilling your basic needs, as is necessary to human existence, and making time for yourself. Think of how you can rejuvenate your energy and spirit. Take time for yourself by treating yourself, taking a break, making time for a nap, relaxing, spending quiet time in meditation, or doing something you enjoy. Taking care of yourself on a regular basis makes being kind to others easier.

Q: How does a person state a complaint about something which is offensively affecting others?

A: The kindest and most polite way to address this is to start with a comment addressing the oblivion, stating what the offense is resulting in, followed by the request. For example, a person may be wearing a strong scent. Rather than responding with a rhetoric statement or dramatic remark, you could say, “I don’t know if you realize how strong that scent is—you might consider using it more sparingly.” or “There have been some complaints from people who are having a reaction to that—and I’d appreciate if you’d cut back.”

Q: I am not in agreement with how someone believes. I feel strongly about this and want to say something. Normally, I blurt my opinion out unsolicited. How can I state what is on my mind in a more kind manner?

A: It is considered impolite to tell people “You should do…”. No one has the right to tell someone how to live their life. The best way to state your opinion, or complaint, is to first state what does work and then follow by saying what doesn’t work. This is considered constructive criticism. Invite open discussion if you are able to. This is the most kind and considerate way to address personal and professional matters of differing opinion.

Q: What is the correct way to respond to a rude statement?

A: Treating offenses as accidents, rather than offenses, shows you believe the best in a person. It is a polite way to give the offender a way to back down. Politeness usually has a higher success rate than responding to rudely to rudeness.

Q: Is it polite to give advice to someone even if it is for improvement?

A: In most cases, no. However, if the advice is welcome from someone who you are already close to, then it should be done with humility and with tactfulness.

Q: How do you respond to let someone know that a question is not welcomed?

A: Respond to unwelcome questions by thanking the person and then stating an appreciation that they asked, without satisfying them with an answer. For example, you could say: “Thank you, I know you mean well.” or “Thank you for taking an interest.”. Another way to respond is with an irrelevant reply. A long pause before responding to indicate disapproval is also a way to responsd. These responses should suffice to indicate that the question is not welcomed. Keep in mind that there is no need to humiliate the person for being nosy. However, it is not out of line to state that they should have more consideration in the future from asking such an invasive question.

Q: I am often asked questions which I do not know how to respond to based on the circumstances. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Try non-verbal responses such as raising your eyebrows or giving a mysterious look or smile.

Q: When a conversation is beginning to turn into gossip, what is a way to stop this?

A: Two replies you can say to counter gossip are:
“Does that person know you are telling me this? Because we are good friends and I wouldn’t want to have that person think I am talking behind their back.” or “Please do not put any ideas about that person in my head. I will not carry around a conclusion about another person without sharing it with them.”

Q: What recommendations are there to responding to anger with kindness?

A: Giving a person or yourself time and space to cool down, is an effective and kind response to anger.

Q: I have noticed that people have differing views on privacy of others. How can there be more sensitivity to the kindness of privacy of human lives and relationships?

A: It is not just unkind, but extremely rude to intrude on another person’s privacy. Privacy comes in many forms. Having individual privacy or privacy within relationships is a necessary part of life. Intruding on this ruins intrinsic joys, and the very essence of the human spirit. Examples of privacy could be a new friendship, a couple kissing, buying a present for someone, having a conversation with a family member, praying, being creative, writing, expressing love for another, or other personal moments in a person’s life. Responding with sensitivity to these private moments means averting the eyes, asking permission before taking the liberty to join in, and declining to trespass given the opportunity. When noticing someone violating the privacy of another, be sensitive to this by encouraging them to kindly stop out of respect for the other person.

Be Cultured. Be Kind.
@cultureofkind

[written for @cultureofkind]


Shop these books on kindness and respect…

Wave and Smile

One of the easiest ways to extend an olive branch, and a touch of human friendliness, is to wave and smile. Many people are never greeted each day. Most people are so engrossed in their cell phones, or computers, that it is rare that human eye contact is even made unless you specifically are out to meet up with someone. The standard of ‘politeness’ is to stand from a distance, giving a person their respectful space, of course, and throw a comment their way, whether kind or not. As adults, it has become an insult to actually talk in person to anyone unless it is to ask for directions or for a business reason. Try it. Wave and smile at someone in person. Even if they are different than you or if you disagree with them. Without even saying a word, you just acknowledged another human existence with the easiest way to be respectful.

This suggestion was made by a child in line for a Library Reading Program in Cedar Hill, TX.

[written for @cultureofkind]


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Music
When I See You Smile
Bad English
From the Album Bad English

Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Bobby McFerrin
From the Album Simple Pleasures


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